New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram is expected to miss about a month with a hand injury sustained during the team's week 2 loss at Cleveland, according to sources.
It is not exactly clear when the injury occured, but Ingram, who clearly had the hot hand (no pun intended) in Sunday's loss, looks set to miss at least the next three games depending on the healing process, with 1 month the initial timetable. Ingram played 20 snaps on offense yesterday, 6 less than Pierre Thomas, and 6 more than Khiry Robinson.
Through the first 2 games of the 2014 NFL season, Ingram has been running well, having compiled 143 yards across 24 carries with 3 touchdowns to boot. Showing improved vision and physicality, Ingram looks like a different player compared to seasons past, when he usually looked to bounce most of his runs to the edge without following the diagram of the play and his blockers. Mark Ingram will miss at least 1 month with a hand injury.
In addition to his 83 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, Ingram also caught 3 passes for 21 yards Sunday. Having seen the Saints decline to pick up his 5th year option earlier this summer, Ingram knows that the 2014 season is an important one for himself and the rest of his career.
"I'm emotional all the time, although I don't maybe show it all the time," Ingram said when asked about his newfound physical style. "I just try to harness it and use it to be a positive and not a negative."
With Ingram on the shelf for at least a month, the Saints will now turn to the reliable Thomas and the young Robinson as they look to keep their running game afloat. Many Saints fans will bemoan the team's lack of a commitment to keeping Ingram and the running game in play Sunday, as coach Sean Payton dialed up several pass plays as New Orleans sat on a slim lead late in the game.
Thomas is already an invaluable asset to the team's attack, doing most of his damage in the passing game with superior receiving and pass protection skills to his other backfield teammates. Robinson, however, looks likely to take on the brunt of the work on the ground, particularly in short-yardage and goal line situations.
Both Robinson and Ingram began to prosper towards the end of the 2013 season and postseason, when Thomas was nursing a chest injury that kept him from participating in the team's two playoff games. Travaris Cadet could also see his role increase, with Brandin Cooks a candidate to see more designed run plays as well.
If Robinson is available on your league's waiver wire, put in a claim and attempt to scoop him up with confidence. The Saints will welcome the Minnesota Vikings in their home-opener at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this Sunday, and are likely to put an emphasis on their rushing attack. Robinson should absorb most, if not more of Ingram's work in addition to his own production. The former undrafted free agent rushed for 31 yards on 8 carries against Cleveland, but those numbers should increase in addition to extra work near the goal line.
Though the veteran Thomas and players like Cadet and Cooks will get their touches, expect Khiry Robinson to be the main beneficiary of Ingram's absence. Whether it is more or less than 1 month, Robinson has shown he is capable of operating as a starting-calibre running back in this league, having rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown across 21 carries in the Saints' two playoff games last season, and needs to be owned for the immediate future.
We will be sure to update Mark Ingram's status as more information becomes available.